I Am My Own Pearl


How many of you have heard this quote from wise men and women?

I heard this quote from one of my oldest friends back in February 2000 when I decided to accept the job offer to work in Cambodia. I fondly called my friend Lolo Etoy (Hector del Rosario), our friendship started during my radio days, in the early part of the 90’s and we continued to be friends until he passed away in 2008 at the ripe age of 97.  He shared me this quote as a way of assuring me that life overseas would not be easy but unless I experience it I wouldn’t know how it is to be myself and see my potentials. To be a version of a better me. What? Well, I didn’t understand then what it meant, but over time, when I had the chance to hear this quote again, I realized I was given an advice full of wisdom before I even knew it.

I respected Lolo Etoy like my dad and my grandfather, and I valued his advice especially about savings and living a frugal life. They are one of the most successful baby boomers in the country, their family used to own one of the first memorials in the country and at his senior years partly owned hospitals and schools, but you cannot know his worth by just looking at him, he’s so simple and downright modest when it comes to looks but very astute when it comes to business and money matters.

He told me the story how they amassed such wealth in time of war “every dime and penny we find during the war are kept in the dashboard of our house back then, nothing was wasted, money and food were hard to come by; when the war was over we had enough to buy off US bonds, and when peacetime came the value of the bonds were so high that it was enough to the family to start something and pass on to the next generation”.  Impressive right?

Without sounding pompous he was one of my inspiration in being philanthropic, next to my parents … he shared his time mentoring me, he shared ideas and gave me unsolicited advice and he gave me my first $15.00 as pocket money when it was time for me to go and made me promise to pass it forward. I was forever grateful.

That time catapulted me to working and living overseas as a professional nomad, and I have people like Lolo Etoy to thank for showing me an alternative to what kind of life it could be for me should I decide to stay or go. At the same time for planning my life until death (he asked me to buy memorial intends to prepare for the inevitable which came in handy when it was time for my mom to pass on to the next life).

I went … flew off the nest … tried to experience life as an individual, living the life. The first six months contract went by so fast that I ended up working in Cambodia for six years with two non-governmental organization and cemented my devotion to the causes of people with disability and human rights.  Before I moved on and find myself back here at home contemplating what my life would be now after I had a full circle of traveling in 3 other countries and working overseas.

The world indeed is MY oyster … I made myself my pearl … I let the sand roughened me and brought out the best of me during those times I am out in the world on my own.

Share me your oyster story and let’s celebrate life!


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